CCAAT/enhancer binding protein alpha (C/EBP alpha)-induced transdifferentiation of pre-B cells into macrophages involves no overt retrodifferentiation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Earlier work has shown that pre-B cells can be converted into macrophages by the transcription factor CCAAT/enhancer binding protein a at very high frequencies. Using this system, we performed a systematic analysis of whether during transdifferentiation the cells transiently reactivate progenitor-restricted genes or even retrodifferentiate. A transcriptome analysis of transdifferentiating cells showed that most genes are up-or down-regulated continuously, acquiring a macrophage phenotype within 5 d. In addition, we observed the transient reactivation of a subset of immature myeloid markers, as well as low levels of the progenitor markers Kit and FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3 and a few lineage-inappropriate genes. Importantly, however, we were unable to observe the reexpression of cell-surface marker combinations that characterize hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells, including c-Kit and FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3, even when CAAT/enhancer binding protein a was activated in pre-B cells under culture conditions that favor growth of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells or when the transcription factor was activated in a time-limited fashion. Together, our findings are consistent with the notion that the conversion from pre-B cells to macrophages is mostly direct and does not involve overt retrodifferentiation.


  • Alessandro Di Tullio
  • Thien Phong Vu Manh
  • Alexis Schubert
  • Robert Månsson
  • Thomas Graf
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cell and Molecular Biology


  • cell fate decision, cell reprogramming, hematopoietic differentiation, lineage commitment
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17016-17021
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Issue number41
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Hematopoietic Stem Cell Laboratory (013022012)